The "green shoots" theory of economic recovery is starting to look a bit like the herbs in my back yard--the ones I forgot to tell Peter to water while I was in Omaha. Retail sales fell again, despite confident proclamations that consumers had rethought their overreaction last fall. And foreclosures hit another record, which was oddly described as a "levelling off" by a lot of papers. The March numbers showed a big spike, because legislative and corporate moratoriums expired. In that context, a 1% increase in April isn't a "levelling off"--it's extraordinarily worrying.
I don't want to push the Great Depression analogy too far, but what's surprising when you go back to primary sources from 1930 is the optimism. I don't mean to imply that everyone thinks things are just swell. But while you know that they are facing the worst economic decade of the twentieth century, they don't.